The Perfect New Orleans 2 Day Itinerary

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Looking for the perfect New Orleans 2 day itinerary? 

Dotti Mazga of Travel Oasis shares her New Orleans 2 day itinerary in this guest post to help you plan your visit!

New Orleans is one heck of a city – it doesn’t have a million nicknames for nothing! I’ve spent over a week in NOLA, enjoying different tours and activities and getting to know this city intimately. New Orleans is amazing and to help you can get the most out of it, I’ve crafted the perfect 2-day itinerary for you. 

It will take you to some of the more traditional New Orleans sights, but also to some off-the-beaten-track areas. You’ll be guided toward lots of music and eating your bodyweight in delicious Southern food. But don’t worry, you’ll walk it off by exploring the very best that the Big Easy has to offer. 

Planning a trip? Use my favorite resources:

New Orleans 2 Day Itinerary: Quick View 

From walking tours to boat cruises, there’s a lot going on in this New Orleans 2 day itinerary. Here’s a quick overview:

Day 1: French Quarter, Garden District, Ghost Tour

Day 2: Treme Neighborhood, Boat Cruise, Jazz on Frenchmen 

Your New Orleans 2 Day Itinerary

From the French Quarter to the Bywater, I’ve seen it all and am here to help you maximize your visit. Make sure you have some comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a bottle of water. Let’s go!

Day 1

Breakfast at Ruby Slipper

Ruby Slipper is one of New Orlean’s most popular brunch spots, and for good reason – their breakfast is to die for. Try the breakfast tacos, but be warned: they are seriously huge. 

Start your New Orleans trip off at the Canal Street location of Ruby Slipper, so you can be close to the rest of the morning’s activities. 

Stroll the French Quarter

After a big breakfast, your first destination is the historic French Quarter which is New Orlean’s prime tourist destination. 

Take your time strolling through the Quarter as you take in the beautiful architecture along the narrow, cobblestone alleys. Noteworthy are the well-preserved Creole cottages with wrought-iron balconies.

Established by French colonists in 1718, this neighborhood is the oldest in New Orleans (and indeed, one of the oldest in the entire country).

An obvious place to visit within the French Quarter is Bourbon Street, a bustling thoroughfare of historic buildings, eclectic shops and touristy bars. 

Jackson Square, backed by the stunning St. Louis Cathedral, is one of the neighborhood’s biggest landmarks. Inside the square you’ll find street performers, artists selling their work and locals hanging out. 

Want to get to know the NOLA food scene? Check out this French Quarter Food Tour!

Enjoy Chicory Coffee and Beignets at Cafe Du Monde

eat beignets as a stop along your New Orleans 2 day itinerary!

Take a break at one of the city’s biggest institutions, Cafe Du Monde. It’s on Decatur Street, just up from Jackson Square. You’ll know you’re in the right place by the massive line outside! 

While it’s always busy and you may have to wait for a table, it’s well worth it. Grabbing an iced chicory coffee and digging into sugary beignets at Cafe Du Monde is a must-do activity in New Orleans. 

Cafe Du Monde is also a great place to people-watch, and you’re likely to have some street performers entertaining you while you indulge. 

Browse the French Market

After that well-deserved coffee and sugar break, head down the street to the French Market. This is one of the oldest public markets in the US. 

Stretching across six blocks, French Market is a labyrinth of stalls and shops. You’ll find fresh produce, seafood, local crafts and souvenirs. 

Since it’s New Orleans, expect some street performers and music here as well! 

Have a Po’Boy for Lunch at Johnny’s Po-Boys

For lunch, have your first taste of New Orleans fare at Johnny’s Po-Boys, a long-standing New Orleans restaurant. It’s an easy, 10-minute walk down Decatur Street.

While the menu offers a range of Southern specialties, it really is the po’boy you’re here for – a sandwich made from French bread and packed with a variety of fillings ranging from fried seafood to roast beef. 

My tip? Get it ‘fully dressed’ (i.e., packed to the brim with sides). 

Join a Garden District Tour 

mural outside homes in garden district New orleans

After lunch, head over to the Garden District, just a short streetcar ride away. 

Lined with massive oak trees, meticulously manicured gardens and stately mansions, the Garden District exudes elegance and opulence. Like the French Quarter, it’s known for its architecture, showcasing a blend of Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian styles. 

The Garden District is famous for its walking tours, so be sure to sign up for one to get the most out of the area. You’ll learn about the history and will spot some famous mansions. Nicholas Cage, Sandra Bullock and Anne Rice all own real estate here. 

👉 Book a Garden District Walking Tour

Walk Down Magazine Street 

After your tour of the Garden District, it’s time to stroll down Magazine Street, one of New Orleans’ best thoroughfares. 

Magazine Street is six miles long and filled with vintage stores, novelty shops, bakeries, restaurants, cafes and bars. 

It’s always bustling and has a great vibe. Take some time to browse through the shops and stop for a drink along the way. This area is not super touristy and is mostly filled with locals, so it’s a bit more authentic and quirky (to say the least). 

Tuck Into a Crawfish Dinner at Deanie’s Seafood

After all that exploring, it’s time for a big dinner. Nothing says New Orleans like a crawfish dinner, so make reservations for Deanie’s Seafood, one of the most iconic restaurants in town. 

Dare to Take an Evening Ghost Tour 

New Orleans is said to be the most haunted city in the US. This is because it’s not only old (over 300 years old), but has had a savage and tumultuous past. 

Finish your first day in New Orleans with an interactive ghost hunting tour through the French Quarter, where many ghosts and spirits are said to reside. While there are plenty of ghost tours in New Orleans, this one is unique because it lets you try your hand at ghost hunting firsthand!  

Whether or not you believe, this is a fabulous way to tap into the city’s culture and have a bit of fun. 

👉 Book the Interactive Ghost Hunting Tour

Check Out Bourbon Street

If you want to keep going after taht, and don’t mind crowds or debauchery, then head to Bourbon Street to finish your first night with some revelry! 

Alternatively, for a calmer taste of Bourbon street visit with an off-peak guided tour.

Day 2

Breakfast at Daisy Dukes

Start your day with yet another New Orleans breakfast institution: Daisy Dukes. The breakfast here (served all day) is the stuff of legends. Think pancakes, hearty omelets and shrimp and grits – yum!

Join a Historic Tremé Walking Tour

crowd of people in front of a mural in Treme, oldest african american neighborhood in usa

Today you’re stepping off the beaten path and into my favorite part of New Orleans: Tremé (pronounced, Trem-ay)

Known as the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States, Tremé is steeped in history, music and tradition. It was founded by Free People of Color and has been home to some of the city’s most famous musicians. 

The Tremé walking tour is incredible and still ranks as my favorite thing I did in New Orleans. There are not as many visitors here, and you’ll get to see a different (yet integral) side to NOLA. 

The tours start at Armstrong Park and stop at key locations in the neighborhood. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of jazz in the city. 

While Tremé has had a previously rough reputation, it is now completely safe, especially during the day. 

Tremé is also home to the majority of the city’s famous second-line parades, so if you’re visiting on a Sunday, you’ll likely get to run into one!

👉 Book the Tremé Walking Tour

Have Lunch at Lil Dizzy’s

After your walking tour, stroll over to Lil Dizzy’s for lunch. This is a very local, very popular spot so expect it to be busy. 

It’s all Southern classics here, but particularly famous is the fried chicken. 

Cruise the Mississippi on a Boat 

After all that walking, it’s time to put your feet up and relax!

Finish your afternoon in style with a boat cruise on the Mississippi River. You’ll get to see some of the city’s most iconic landmarks from a different vantage point.

Boat tours leave regularly from the riverfront area adjacent to Woldenberg Park and last around two hours. It’s a perfect way to spend your afternoon after a lot of walking around.

👉 Book a Steamboat Natchez Jazz Cruise

Dine at Commander’s Palace

Have dinner tonight at Commander’s Palace, one of the best restaurants in town. This place is extremely popular, so do make reservations well in advance. 

Visit Jazz Clubs on Frenchmen Street

colorful mural in front of a jazz club, Marigny, in New Orleans

Finish off your New Orleans holiday in true NOLA fashion – with some jazz on Frenchmen Street! This is an authentic way to have a night out in New Orleans and is very different from Bourbon Street. 

Located in one of the hippest areas of New Orleans, the Marigny, Frenchmen Street is legendary for its jazz performances. This small stretch is filled with back-to-back jazz clubs, each hosting world-class musicians multiple times a day. 

The biggest names to pop into are the Spotted Cat, Blue Nile and Snug Harbour, but there are so many more to explore as well. Follow your ears to what sounds best to you. 

While you’re in the area, stop by the Frenchmen Street Art Bazaar as well. It’s held nightly from 6pm to midnight. 

sign saying Frenchmen Art bazaar,  in new orleans

Where to Stay in New Orleans

There is no shortage of great places to stay in New Orleans. Whether you’re a budget backpacker or looking for something five-star, here are top recommendations for where to stay in New Orleans. 

🏨 Luxury: Four Seasons New Orleans 

For a luxe stay in an elegant environment, book the Four Seasons New Orleans. Experience top-tier customer service and incredible amenities on site. Perfect for whether you’re in town celebrating a special occasion or simply want a comfortable home base to recharge from each day’s adventure.

👉 Click here to check prices & availability

🏨 Mid-Range: Hotel Peter and Paul 

A hidden gem in New Orleans! Hotel Peter and Paul is an old church and convent that was renovated into a hotel and restaurant. It’s located in a quiet neighborhood that’s a 10 minute walk to Frenchmen Street. 

👉 Click here to check prices & availability

🏨 Budget: MOXY New Orleans Downtown 

Located in the popular French Quarter and close to public transportation as well, the MOXY hotel offers a convenient option if you’re on a budget. The rooms are clean and quiet, the staff are helpful and the lobby offers a fun and welcoming environment. 

👉 Click here to check prices & availability

When is the best time to visit New Orleans?

Late winter into early Spring (February to April) is the best time to visit New Orleans. The weather is pleasant and perfect for strolling around the city. The humidity is relatively low this time of year, and the city is buzzing as the days get warmer. 

It’s also festival season and there is a lot happening in the Big Easy at this time including Mardi Gras, French Quarter Fest and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. 

However, this is also high season in New Orleans, so you will have to plan accordingly as accommodation can book out quickly!

FAQ: New Orleans 2 Day Itinerary

Now that you know how to spend the perfect 2 days in New Orleans, let’s go through the practical information you need to know. 

Is 2 days enough time in New Orleans?

Honestly, you can spend weeks in NOLA and not get bored! But if 2 days is all you have, then yes, you can get a good overview in that time. However, as there is so much to see and do in New Orleans, expect those 2 days to be jam-packed!

What is the #1 attraction in New Orleans?

Anyone who is the least bit familiar with New Orleans has likely heard of Bourbon Street, located in the city’s French Quarter.

The street seems to be ever-alive and attracts bachelor / bachelorette parties in NOLA, is a central throughway for parades and tends to be a must-visit for any visitors to the city to experience the buzz firsthand.

What month should you go to New Orleans?

April is the best month to visit New Orleans. This is during spring, so the weather will be ideal for exploring, with lows in the mid 60s and highs in the high 70s. 

In April, New Orleans also hosts the French Quarter Festival, an excellent event to take in and have some fun. 

Final Thoughts: Your 2 Day New Orleans Itinerary

New Orleans is a vibrant and multifaceted city. There truly is no place else like it in the US. You’re sure to experience a unique culture, great music, terrific food and important history on your visit to this lively city.

About the author: Dotti Mazga is one-half of Travel Oasis, a worldwide travel blog focused on outdoor adventures in both common and uncommon destinations. You can often find us camping in our little orange tent and embarking on adventurous multi-day hikes in places as diverse as Australia, Ethiopia and Tajikistan.